Can you be born a vegetarian

Vegan or vegetarian and pregnant - is that possible?

You set the course for a healthy life for your baby already during your pregnancy. The higher demand for food energy and the optimal supply of nutrients are often underestimated - regardless of whether they are vegan, vegetarian or not. In general, however, if you want to eat a purely plant-based diet during pregnancy, you need a good plan. Because it is more difficult to supply your unborn baby with all the nutrients it needs with a vegan diet. Vegetarians should also keep a few things in mind.

Science doesn't quite agree on this issue. There are still too few long-term studies in this area. The German Nutrition Society does not recommend a vegan diet for pregnancy. And many doctors also recommend a compromise: women should at least allow eggs and dairy products during pregnancy. But what everyone agrees on: Vegetarians and vegans have to pay more attention to their diet in order not to endanger the health of their baby.

The timing is crucial

In the early months, your baby's growth is so slow that (with the exception of folate) there is no increased need for individual nutrients. From the fourth month of pregnancy, however, you should make sure that you follow the higher recommended intake for food energy, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, B6, B12 and folate, as well as the minerals iron, zinc and iodine.

Focus especially on protein and total energy intake

Proteins in pregnancy are an essential part of your diet. They prevent a drop in energy and provide your unborn child with the amino acids that are essential for its growth. Good sources of protein are legumes, cereals, potatoes and nuts, but also natural tofu and seitan.

Important is: An additional energy intake of around 250 kcal per day is sufficient for the entire pregnancy. If you notice very little weight gain or even loss during your pregnancy, this should be a clear warning signal to you that your diet has not yet been properly adjusted. It is best to discuss nutrition with your doctor from the start. During the checkups you will be weighed regularly and the size and weight of your baby will also be estimated. If the doctor isn't entirely satisfied with your dwarf's development, you may need to make a few changes to your diet.

Keep an eye on iron absorption

In particular, twice as much iron is needed during pregnancy. This is due to the mother's larger volume of blood, which is required for the formation of the placenta and for the growing child. But don't worry, one Iron deficiency can also be prevented very easily without meat: iron is found in broccoli, spinach, millet, lentils and whole grain products, for example. Nevertheless, it remains a bit of a challenge, because vegetable iron is more difficult to absorb than animal iron. Vitamin C is necessary for the body to make better use of iron. You can easily drink a glass of orange juice with foods that contain iron. Another option is to soak the grain and kernels well to break down the iron absorption inhibitor.

Do not lose sight of the B12 requirement

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in milk, eggs and cheese. Vegetarians who regularly eat eggs or dairy products do not have to fear an undersupply. In plant-based foods, however, vitamin B12 is hardly found at all. Separate preparations, mostly in the form of tablets, are required here. A vitamin B12 deficiency can have far-reaching consequences both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding - in the worst case, premature birth, miscarriage or permanent neurological damage.

If you suddenly feel cravings for meat or fish, this is usually a clear sign from the body that important nutrients such as iron or vitamin B12 are missing. Often during pregnancy, gynecologists suggest blood tests for iron and folic acid - here you can point out your individual diet and ask that the B12 be tested for free at the same time.

Vegetarian diet works well

In addition to the ecological factor, a vegetarian diet also has many positive effects on your body. These include B. a stable blood sugar level, better dental health, avoidance of heartburn or constipation. The diet often has a better fatty acid profile and contains less sugar. Often you do not gain as much weight during pregnancy and, according to experts, breast milk is significantly less contaminated with harmful substances. So you can do without meat if you consume iron and B12 in other ways. As a vegan, you will probably have to take a closer look and adjust your diet to your pregnancy in consultation with your doctor.